Every year, Disneyland Paris pulls out all the stops to spread that little bit of Christmas magic. This year is bigger and better than ever, with Mickey, Minnie and new addition Duffy taking to the streets of Main Street USA to put on a truly enchanted Christmas that the whole family will remember for years to come.
Hop on a Eurostar at St Pancras International and you can be rubbing shoulders with Pluto and co in under three hours. To hit the park mid-morning, book yourself on an early train heading straight to Marne-La-Vallee (Disneyland Park). We travelled in Standard Premier, which includes a good breakfast and a sizeable luggage allowance (very handy if you have the kids in tow).
Best rooms in the house
If you choose to stay at one of Disneyland Paris' seven hotels, most are situated just a short distance away from the stations. We stayed at Disney's Hotel New York, which is just a 15-minute stroll away from the parks. The hotel boasts an array of facilities including two swimming pools, a gym, restaurants and bars. Rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable – but let's face it, you don't really go to Disney to spend all of your weekend in a hotel room!
The attention to detail that Disney goes to in its parks is second to none. The resort has been carefully planned so that visitors can get the most out of their experience. Early starters can plan their day with the free FastPass service for most of the main rides and attractions. This gives you an allocated time for each ride, cutting queue times to a minimum – essential if you are only there for one day.
The parks are also not as hard to get around as you may imagine. Take a load off your feet by hopping on the Disneyland Railroad at Main Street USA or hitch a lift in one of the vintage cars.
Things to do...
Young children will revel at the chance to ride on the Teacups or fly with Dumbo, while for big kids of all ages, there are plenty of white-knuckle rides including Space Mountain, Aerosmith's rockin' Rollercoaster and the hair-raising Tower of Terror.
It's easy to get caught up by endless activities at the two parks – Walt Disney Studios and the Disneyland Park – so do map out where you want to go beforehand. The Disneyland Paris website is a great place to start your planning, with interactive maps and tools. You'll also be allocated maps on your arrival, along with helpful suggested itineraries and even a schedule of photo opportunities, so it really is hard to go wrong.
Disney's Enchanted Christmas
From the second you walk into Disneyland Park, you'll be transported to an amazing winter wonderland. The 24-metre tree sparkles magnificently, glorious lights abound, carols are in full swing, snow is falling...
And of course, Christmas wouldn't be complete without Santa. Throughout December, you can take your kids (or adults) to Santa's village to meet the big man himself. Watch out for the elves – they can be quite playful!
Do try to squeeze in a show or one of the parades. Disney's 'Once Upon a Dream' parade is a fun re-enactment of the finest moments from the Disney classics. This year newcomer Duffy and Santa are VIP guests in the parade, which runs through the entire park.
If you do one thing while you're here...
A surprise highlight was the Finding Nemo themed Crush's Coaster in Walt Disney Studios. Make sure you arrive early for this one as queues get very long!
It's hard to fault Disneyland Paris, but the one thing to bear in mind is the quality and price of the food. It's what you'd expect from a big theme park and can be quite expensive – so pick your restaurants wisely. Our particular favourite was the Moroccan themed Agrabah Café which offered a good balanced buffet for a reasonable €22.
Disneyland Paris is a great way to re-discover your inner child. Magical, fun, enchanting: this is definitely is a place where both young and old can enjoy themselves. And nobody does Christmas quite like it, with wonderful decorations, Mickey and friends dressed in their festive best and snow falling down Main Street USA.
How to book
For more information about a family break to Disneyland Paris, call direct on 08448 008 111 or visit disneylandparis.com. During Disney's Enchanted Christmas, prices for a two-night, three-day package including return travel with Eurostar in December 2011 start from £1087.20 for a family of two adults and two children (aged 3-6). The price includes: return travel with Eurostar, two nights' accommodation with breakfast at Disney's Hotel New York and three-day park hopper tickets for Disneyland Park and Walk Disney Studios Park.
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